I’m sure you’ve noticed by now that last minute congressional decisions in 2012 resulted in a 2 percent cut in everyone’s take-home pay beginning 2013. That hurts!

I immediately began thinking where ordinary households could cut the cost of goods and services they’re paying for now to make up for the loss of income. You may already know what I’m thinking: Laundry detergent. No, really. Laundry detergent!

By reducing your per-load cost for detergent from $.35 or more to just $.03, you’ll have made a good start in recovering the lost income. Read more

Some of the strangest looks I get are from people who just don’t get why I would make my own laundry detergent when it is so readily available in just about any store. I’ve written about this before, but for those of you who aren’t convinced, I’d like another chance to change your mind.


Cost. You’re not surprised that this would be first on my list. In my own unscientific way, I have done exhaustive research on this. When a bottle of Tide or ALL laundry detergent promises “82 Loads” consider the fine print. Check it. Realistically, you have to cut that number of loads in half if you have a high-capacity washer. Read the instructions. They are talking about small loads of laundry.

My research has determined that on average, regularly priced laundry detergent costs from $.35 to $.50 per load of laundry. That may not sound like much to you until you consider that you can make your own detergent for about $.03 to $.05 per load. Read more

Loyal readers will recall recipes and instructions in this column for how to make your own laundry detergent. It’s a topic not warmly embraced by many. Some of the strangest looks I get are from people who just don’t get why anyone would waste even five minutes doing such a crazy thing, when laundry detergent is so readily available in just about any store. I’ll tell you why.

1. Cost. You’re not surprised that this would be first on my list. In my own unscientific way, I’ve researched this. When a bottle of Tide or ALL laundry detergent promises “82 Loads” consider the fine print. Check it. Realistically, you can cut the number of loads you can wash in half if you have a high-capacity washer. That means on average, regularly priced laundry detergent costs from $.35 to $.50 per load. That may not sound like much to you until you consider that you can make your own detergent for about $.03 to $.05 per load. Read more

Today I want to introduce you to the idea of making your own laundry detergent. I know what you are thinking: Why on earth would we do that when laundry detergent is widely available? Store-bought detergent is a particular convenience for those of us who are already so busy we can hardly find time to do the laundry, let alone make the detergent.

There are several reasons, but the big one is cost. You can make your own detergent for about three cents per load. Commercial laundry detergent costs about 30 cents per load, depending on the type. That is significant. If you make your own detergent, you may more easily afford milk, eggs, bread and other pantry staples that are rising in price so quickly.

Another reason to make your own detergent: Allergies. Some people are allergic to the perfumes and other fillers in commercial detergents. Making your own allows you to know what is in it.

Powdered Laundry Detergent

1 cup grated Fels-Naptha soap
1/2 cup Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda (not baking soda, please!)
1/2 cup 20 Mule Team Borax

Mix and store in airtight container or bag. For light loads, use 2 tablespoons. For heavy loads, use 3 tablespoons.

Big Batch: To make a large batch, grate 6 bars of Fels-Naptha Soap and then add 3 cups of Super Washing Soda and 3 cups of 20 Mule Team Borax. Mix well and store in covered container. TIP: Homemade detergent will not make suds in your washer, so do not be alarmed. Fels-Naptha Soap is a pure soap and typically makes little or no suds in the water. This makes it perfect for use in the new HE washers as well as traditional washers. You will also notice the need to either reduce your laundry softener, in most cases you can even eliminate the use of softener completely. You can also use white vinegar in the last rinse (1 cup is plenty) to remove all traces of detergent.

Liquid Laundry Detergent

3 pints water
1/3 bar Fels-Naptha Soap, grated
1/2 cup SuperWashing Soda (not baking soda, please!)
1/2 cup 20 Mule Team Borax
2 gallon bucket, for mixing
1 quart hot water
Mix Fels-Naptha soap in a saucepan with 3 pints hot water and heat on low until dissolved. Stir in SuperWashing Soda and Borax. Stir until thickened, and remove from heat. Add 1 quart hot water to a two-gallon bucket. Add soap mixture, and mix well. Fill bucket with additional hot water as needed (you should have about 1.5 gallons of the mixture), and mix well. Set aside for 24 hours, or until mixture thickens. Use 1/2 cup of mixture per load.